Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Entry 2/dos 1/12/16 (Actually 1/5/16) (San Jose, CR)

We slept like rocks that night. If rocks were assaulted by club music until midnight, but rocks none the less. The next day we where told that we were going on a hike to el volcan Poas. Forgive my lack of ascents, I can't figure out how to insert them. We were also introduced to all of our professors and finally had an opportunity to speak with them as the day before had been hectic at best. Breakfast included fresh fruit, rice and beans, toast and juice. A bit heavier than I was used to, but I generally eat a boiled egg for breakfast, so what do I know. We all then pilled into the bus, where reintroduced to Wilson (who would be our driver for the next week and no longer). The drive was about an hour and a half. All through San Jose and up into the mountains that surround it. Poas is to the west of the city. It actually rests on the continental divide so some of the water that falls on it goes into the Pacific and some goes into the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico. It has a cloud forest ecosystem as well as a double caldera. One is inactive and has a lake in it but the other is active an on occasion spews toxic gas. As it is close to the main valley where over a third of the population lives, it is very closely monitored. It was too foggy to see either but we could see closer things. Like trees. Covered with epitaphs, moss and spider webs. I was thrilled. It wasn't as much walking as I expected from the advertised 'hike', but it still was beautiful. It also had the expected cheeky squirrel and bazillion tourists. Poas is the most visited national park in Costa Rica and it showed in both the quality of the facilities and the number of people there.

We headed back to the hotel, stopping along the way for a truly delicious lunch where we were introduced to a type of sauce that will define our trip here. Lizano is wonderful. Savory and tangy it goes perfectly with everything. I have taken advantage of that. Many times. We watched the rolling hills transform from fields, that began the moment the park ended and not a second later, into urban sprawl. Afternoon was for panicked reading of assigned papers that we either didn't have access to, didn't realize had been assigned or just hadn't read. For the record I would like to say that I was in the second group, not the third. Our computers were leaving us the next day along with our excess luggage as we started on our week long tour of the country. Thus we were less than thrilled by the announcement that we were going out for dinner and had an hour to pack our things as we were getting back at an uncertain time. The drive was all uphill for an hour and twenty minutes. I was grumpy and hungry by the time we arrived. The view of the restaurant almost made up for the lack of packing/reading time. We could see the entirety of the night-lit central valley. Lights from every car, building and street light shining like the milky-way. It was breathtaking. Dinner was a buffet of really delicious vegetables, chicken, plantains and a type of coconut candy I had never had before but very much enjoyed. Maria Estella had promised us a surprise and I was hoping it was the view and that with dinner done, we would be heading home. It wasn't and we didn't. The restaurant had a central dance floor surrounded by several benches which we were directed to sit on. I thought there were going to be fireworks as we were facing out into the valley. Again I was wrong. Six dancers strode onto the floor in full flamenco costume accompanied by some of the loudest music and shrinking I have ever heard. They were so close to us as they danced that their cloths snapped around and sometimes against us. For half an hour they danced, beautiful like peacocks or butterfly's, still accompanied by the painfully loud music. It was a strange combination of a treat to the eyes and an assault on the ears. For the finale, we were pulled onto the floor to try and imitate the infinitely more flexible and graceful dancers. Then, in a swirl of colors, they were gone and the performance over. The drive home took twenty minutes, which cheered me up, and gave us enough time to finish packing and fall into bed to sleep off some of our exhaustion from traveling.

Here are photos of Poas, the first is of the inactive caldera/the vegetation we could see on the side of it. The second is a sample of what the forest on the volcano looked like.

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